Fill your belly with Kolache Republic's savory and sweet stuffed pastries
It would be impossible, or at least irresponsible, to write about the only place in Columbus that specializes in kolache (pronounced ko-lah’-chee) without describing what in the heck a kolache is. So here’s a description from the website of Kolache Republic: “A kolache is a Czech pastry made of slightly sweet dough baked with a variety of fruit, nut, sweet cheese and meat fillings.”
I might now mention that some people insist that “kolache” should only be used as the plural for the singular of “kolach” (terminology is something that hardcore kolache enthusiasts will argue about). I could similarly delve into why certain purists would declare that kolache filled with meat must be called klobasniky. And I might compare the kolache aesthetics of various kolache-rich areas, such as Cedar Rapids, Iowa, which has a sizable population of people with Czech heritage, and the “Texas Czech Belt” of central Texas.
But why explore divergent notions about kolaches (following the local lead, I’m going to use “kolaches” for plural and “kolache” as singular) when most people who visit Kolache Republic will agree that its pastries are fun to eat?
Fortunately, people can visit Kolache Republic again. Founded in 2013, the business closed its doors about a year ago but relaunched last summer inside The Daily Growler in the Brewery District — an amiable tavern with brick and white walls, local art, repurposed-growler lampshades, plenty of upstairs seating and oceans of Ohio-sourced beverages.
Operating from a window inside The Daily Growler, Kolache Republic features house-made kolache dough in shape-shifting forms. The soft, yeasty, moderately sweet and very comforting white-bread-like pastry it produces appears in savory breakfast kolaches ($5; served until 1 p.m.) that conjure large round dinner rolls hiding flavorful secret centers; rectangular sweet kolaches ($2) that resemble Danish pastries; and puffy buns for sliders offered on a bar menu available on Friday and Saturday evenings.
One of my favorites is a Texas classic: an oblong kolache filled with a large segment of good kielbasa, molten cheese and fresh jalapeno. Deceptively hefty and delicious, it’s like the biggest and best pig in a blanket you never had.
The other breakfast kolaches I tried were round and also quite pleasant. My favorites among these were a flavor-packed pastry filled with zesty chorizo minced with scrambled egg and bound with a little cheese, and its near twin made with sage-scented sausage in place of chorizo.
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You’ll want some sweet kolaches, too. Featuring both creative and traditional fillings — such as butterscotch pear, sweet cream cheese or crushed-Oreo-like cookies and cream — you can’t go wrong with any of these, either.
On weekends, Kolache Republic’s dough is also used to make softball-sized cinnamon rolls ($3.50) that are pretty lovable. But the best weekend brunch special I sampled was a hearty and terrific version of biscuits and gravy ($6).
The thick-pattied bar-menu sliders I tried were likewise substantial, flavorful and nicely priced ($3.50; ordering two earns free tots). I was especially fond of the chorizo burger with cream cheese and house-pickled chilies (the Jalapeno Popper). And while the meat was somewhat dry on my beef sliders — the Classic with melted cheese, garlic sauce, caramelized onions and more; and the self-explanatory Mac ‘N Cheese — they were undeniably good-tasting sandwiches.
Another evening-only dish — the excellent Loaded Mac ‘n Cheese casserole ($9) with chorizo, kielbasa, sausage and more — is a must. Tip: It travels well and tastes even better when paired with to-go drinks such as poured-to-order crowlers (32-ounce cans) of American Strong Ale from Seventh Son Brewing ($9); pineapple-flavored Flashlight hard seltzer from Nocterra Brewing ($9.50); and/or nuanced bottled cocktails ($10) from local libation artist Travis Owens of Behind The Glass Beverage Consulting.
Inside The Daily Growler (Brewery District)
702 S. High St., Brewery District